The 10-Year Recovery Model, Year Six: Looking Outward

  • In the fall of 1992, my grandmother died.  She was a widow—my grandpa was in a coma when I got sick, and he died while I was in the hospital.  My career at the firm derailed, I hung in there like a wounded champ unable to concede the title.

    At this time in my life, I was all business on the outside: I wore fake Chanel suits with leather pumps, and a pocketbook the size of a house to carry important files and notes.  Adriana left the company, and a guy bigger than a bathtub took her place.  He assigned me to work for Johnson, a jerk who made my life miserable by giving me all his big projects to complete as well as my own.  The Bathtub Guy, of course, was in on this, and I had no support.  Johnson spent his days sharpening pencils and dialing the women on his Rolodex.
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    Living on the Island, with Margot one of my only friends, I had few creative outlets except the clubs on Bay Street where we listened to rock bands or went dancing.  I dressed to impress by day, and by night I wore mini skirts and fishnets.

    It was a heady time.  Yet the truth of the illness lingered, and as I got better once again, I knew I had a story in me, a book.  As long as I stayed on the meds, I had no positive symptoms, and virtually no negative ones.  A low-level anxiety came on as I tried to carve out a life.  I felt anxious in the shopping mall, on the two-hour commute each way to and from Manhattan, where I worked, and on Friday nights when my psychic pain heralded the start of a do-nothing weekend.

    This time out, I decided I’d stay on the 5 mgs. and not tempt fate.  It took me a year to bounce back, as it often did after a relapse, according to Dr. Santiago—the psychiatrist I saw at the time.  As soon as I got out of Veronica Lane the second time, he prescribed a mild anti-depressant to get me through the post-hospital blues.

    I lived on my own in the studio, and for that I was glad.  I could come and go as I pleased.  On the endlessly sunny days I took off from work, not wanting to face the truth, I drove my Mustang everywhere: along the beach road; down Hylan Boulevard towards the end of the Island.  I sang along to the FM radio as I sped down the highways and byways.

    I didn’t know then what my life was to be about.  I didn’t realize God had other plans for me.  I was simply a young woman in love with the City, living the first chapter of her life, oblivious to the future.  It was the role I was meant to play during this in-between time.

    Year Six: Looking Outward is an important year.  It can be a self-sustaining time, where you experience more of what the world has to offer, and possibly come into your own.  If you have done your best in your recovery, now could be the time to advocate for others after all your self-advocacy in the first five years.

    Start with a non-profit whose mission you value, and see if their director will take you on.  If you have the life experience, skills and traits needed, make the case that you could be a peer advocate.  It could maybe even turn into a paying job, or at the least, something to put on a resume.

  • This is payback time for all your hard work.   If you took initiative and persisted, and soldiered through any setbacks in the first five years, it’s now time to enjoy your bounty and share it with others.
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    Year seven continues with this reflection on the past, and the self-analysis needed to give you the keys to unlocking where you’re meant to be at year 10.  I’ll talk about this introspective time next.

Published On: April 05, 2007